Family Law Cases in Texas: Child Support in Divorce

Of all the subjects surrounding a divorce, child support seems to garner the most extreme opinions from parents. The child support levels are either too high or not high enough, depending upon your perspective.

Daycare, clothing, food, rent, etc. are all issues to be concerned with if you are a custodial parent and your children live with you. On the other hand, if you are the noncustodial parent and are ordered to pay child support under a divorce order then you may have misgivings about paying your ex-spouse support that is intended for your children.

I had a prior client who asked me, innocently enough, whether or not there was a chance that we could ask the judge in his case to insert an order in his Final Decree of Divorce that required the State of Texas to track every dollar of the child support he paid his ex-wife in order to verify that she was spending the money on the kids and not herself.

While an ambitious idea to be sure, I had to inform this client that unfortunately, the State did not have unlimited resources and therefore tracking every dollar his child support would not be possible.

With that said, what are the keys to establishing child support in a divorce and how is it done? Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will focus on this topic.

Setting up child support in conjunction with your divorce

If you are the parent with the right to determine the primary residence of your children you will have the right to also receive child support on behalf of your children from your ex-spouse. These two rights, for what it’s worth, are possibly the only two superior rights that you have over your ex-spouse depending upon the additional orders contained in your Final Decree of Divorce.

The income of your ex-spouse, as well as the number of children you have before the court in your divorce, will determine the dollar amount of child support that you will owe each month moving forward.

It is important to note a child support credit will be given for any children that your ex-spouse is responsible for who are not before the court (as in from other relationships) and to whom a duty of support is owed. This means that a lesser amount of child support will be owed to you as a result.

The State of Texas has created guideline levels of child support and the percentages associated with those levels of support are contained within the Texas Family Code.

For example:

  1. if you have one child with your spouse then the percentage of your spouse’s net monthly resources that will be taken for child support purposes is 20%.
  2. Two children means 25% of the
  3. net monthly resources are considered on up to at the most 50% for five or more children.

It will be important for your attorney to determine how to arrive at an income for your spouse from which child support can be determined. In some circumstances, your spouse may be under-employed- meaning that he or she is earning less than he or she is capable of in order to avoid a higher support obligation.

This would need to be proved to a judge in order so that he or she can make a ruling on what is an appropriate amount of child support to be paid.

What is considered to be a part of net resources when it comes to determining child support?

Wages and salary on a monthly basis are one hundred percent eligible to be a part of your spouse’s net monthly resources. Bonuses, overtime pay, and commissions are included in this calculation. If your spouse earns interest or dividends on investments then these too factor into the analysis for child support.

Rental income (minus expenses and mortgage payments) and other miscellaneous sources of income like retirement benefits, social security income, and worker’s compensation benefits complete our look at different sources of income that are eligible to be considered when determining child support in your divorce.

For the most part, your spouse’s monthly wages are what the child support will be based on. Most of us don’t have significant secondary sources of income or investments that yield income that would be worthwhile to investigate. If you are in the beginning stages of planning your divorce then I would recommend that you collect any pay-stubs of your spouse that you can if you expect to be paid child support.

Once your divorce is underway this information will be harder to come by and your attorney may have to make formal requests of these documents via the discovery process.

Reasons to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines contained in the Family Code

The percentages associated with your spouse’s net monthly resources are what is typically ordered to be paid for most divorces in Texas. However, there are circumstances that can either increase or decrease the levels of support. Essentially, if the court determines that it is not in the best interests of your children to have the guidelines level of support be applied in your case these other factors may be considered.

Specifically, the age and special needs (if any) of your children may be considered. If your child has special needs in terms of academics, medical or psychological issues then your spouse may end up being on the hook for higher than guidelines levels of child support.

On the other hand, what if you and your spouse negotiated that you would be able to reside a great distance from one another after the divorce. In so doing, you knowing accepted the fact that your spouse will have to travel greater distances, and incur greater costs, just to exercise his or her periods of possession with your children. As a result, his or her level of child support may be decreased to account for these increased costs when compared to most parents in his or her position.

How do medical expenses fit into this discussion?

In addition to being required to provide child support for your children, your spouse is required to pay for health insurance coverage for the children as well. If he or she is not able to directly provide coverage for your children and the responsibility falls to you, then your spouse will be required to reimburse you for the monthly costs of your providing the children with coverage. Costs associated with medical procedures that are not covered by insurance are typically split between spouses 50/50.

How to change or alter a child support order

Sometimes it happens that the circumstances of your life, your ex-spouse’s life, or one of your children can change substantially after your divorce concludes. In that situation, you or your ex-spouse would be able to file a lawsuit to modify the portions of your divorce decree that have to do with child support.

A judge would be looking for a material and substantial change in circumstances in order to justify a modification. For example, if your ex-spouse recently got a new job where his or her income has increased dramatically or if one of your children has an illness that will require continual medical care then these are the sort of factors a court would look for in order to increase a child support obligation. On the flip side, if your spouse recently lost their job and has been unable to find work at their previous rate then the child support obligation of your spouse may be decreased accordingly.

Questions on how to actually begin a divorce? Come back tomorrow to read more

Now that we have set ourselves up with a good base of knowledge, we can actually begin to walk through the process of filing for divorce in Texas. Please head back to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to read more on this subject tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about divorce or any other issue related to Texas family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our team of licensed family law attorneys stand ready to assist you with your problems six days a week. A consultation with one of our attorneys is free of charge and can go a long way towards addressing your particular issues and providing you with some peace of mind during this difficult time in your life.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. How to properly calculate child support in Texas
  2. Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
  3. Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
  4. The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
  5. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  6. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  7. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  8. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  9. Texas Child Support Appeals
  10. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  11. Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
  12. Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child support lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child support lawyersin Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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